Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Accidental Big Brother

The other day I was reflecting on the responsibilities of teachers to maintain a respectable presence in the community. Teacher-candidates are warned about their public appearances. In previous decades that would mean teachers would have to endeavour to be model citizens in their community, or maintain a low profile. Once a person could go home, close their doors, and enjoy their privacy.

With the digital age upon us that is no longer the case. As a professional-in-training in the education sector I’ve become highly aware of the scrutiny new media, but we are not alone. Employers are increasingly using social networks to screen potential employees.

With social media we’ve essentially abandoned much of our privacy. Our identities, broadly speaking, are now publicly accessible. Not to mention our activities, actions and believes are open to scrutiny. I am aware of the irony of this while writing a blog. Something else I find questionable is that we are more profoundly judged on how we interact with one another. In face-to-face interactions we curtail what we say based on who we are speaking with and where we are. How we talk to grandma at church is different than us shooting the breeze with a friend in the hallway, especially our sassy friends.

Social networking, such as Facebook, level the playing field. Posts on your wall, and photographs are completely removed from context. In addition, comments and postings you make are left to separate scrutiny beyond the one-on-one relationship.

A 2009 study from CareerBuilder stated that 45% of employers use Facebook to screen applicants. Does anyone believe this number is lower in 2011? 53% of candidates were excluded due to inappropriate or provocative photos, 29% for poor communication skills. For other factors check out the article, here .

Nearly 3 in 10 are excluded due to poor communication skills on Facebook? Start checking your spelling and grammar folks, because it might count one day soon.

The great fear in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or one of them, was that someone would be always watching you. Well instead of an all powerful state, or abusive corporations, it’s ourselves who have exposed ourselves to deep scrutiny. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to post this.


Carey said...

I have been aware of this "phenomenon" for some time now; I have created something of a neutral online persona to prevent hindering my future employment, or ending my current employment.

I continue to post thoughts, and scrutinize other folks posts, but I keep personal thoughts for personal conversations. This follows a theme similar to the privacy discussed in your previous post.

Great post sir, I wish more people were aware of this. Too often I read a "friend's" post on Facebook and wonder how their 3-years-future self would reflect on the absurdity and inappropriateness of comparing an ex lover to fecal matter one scrapes off of their shoe.

I think the biggest concern is for the youth. With Facebook's minimum sign-up age being in the tweens, accompanied is a plethora of ill-considered posts from non-adults using adult language one a permanent public forum. Where does the responsibility lie?

SJL said...

I wonder if people with neutral profiles will assumed to have something to hide. I don't know if neutral would mean bland as opposed to lacking in completeness. If I saw someone with missing information, I'd assume it was because something was being purposefully omitted.

I didn't recognize the cross-postings theme. That's exciting. Ha.

The concerns for youths are legitimate. I wouldn't want my MSN conversations from my tweens (a rough comparison to current social tech) being accessible in my 20s. Can you imagine politicians in the next generation, having to explain their comments? That will be fun.

Carey said...

Exactly. A hyper-vetting process. However, one consideration is that in the future generations a shared understanding of internet abuse and naivety might emerge.

Also, completely unrelated to this subject, your commitment to your blog has me considering launching my own, which, if you link to my profile, has a title but no content.

SJL said...

Good point Carey, but the middle years of this transformation are going to hurt. I.E. an older generation who harshly judge and a younger generation who understands. It's like how people look at smoking weed nowadays. Good simile.

I'll look into it Carey.